Agricultural investment activities in the Beira Corridor, Mozambique: Threats and opportunities for small-scale farmers
Agricultural growth corridors are key tools for the expansion of the Green Revolution onto the African continent. In Southern Africa, the Beira Corridor – joining Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the coast of Mozambique – is one such corridor.
ACB has partnered with UNAC (the National Peasants’ Union) and Kaleidoscopio to produce a report that tracks the development of the Corridor, and links it to the broader Green Revolution thrust in Africa. The particular focus is on the multi-donor Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC) initiative. The report also considers the changing seed system in Mozambique, and the possible effects of regional agreements and laws on farmer-managed seed systems. There is a section on agro-dealers as a key delivery mechanism for Green Revolution technologies, especially seed, fertilizer and agrochemicals, and reflections on the alternatives in farmer-based and public sector extension. Finally, the report considers activities around synthetic fertilizer production and distribution and the central role of the Beira Corridor in the Green Revolution strategy in Mozambique.
The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) welcomes the recent decision made by the Minister of Agriculture, Water Affairs and Fisheries and an Appeal Board rejecting the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) potatoes in South Africa.
The ACB with the support of the South African public, vigorously campaigned over a number of years against the Agricultural Research Council (ARC’s) bid to bring GM potatoes, also known as “SpuntaG2,” to the South African market. The potatoes were genetically engineered to produce a toxin to kill the potato tuber moth. The ACB has always contended that the GM potato posed unacceptable risks to human and animal health, the environment and the farming community. GM Regulators in SA, the Executive Council: GMO Act, agreed and rejected ARC’s application in 2009, citing a long list of biosafety, health and socio-economic concerns. These were challenged by the ARC in an appeal, which they have now definitively lost.
Executive Director of ACB, Mariam Mayet said, “we have waited several long years for this decision and are extremely pleased that smallholder farmers will not be saddled with this unwanted and risky technology”. The research into the “SpuntaG2” potatoes was bankrolled by the United States Agency for International Development
The chemical fertiliser push in Africa and its implications for smallholder farmers is not receiving enough attention in current discourses concerning Green Revolution policies and practises in Africa. Yet chemical fertilisers are big business on the continent, where its adoption is strongly supported by African governments through subsidy schemes and regional organisations such as NEPAD, the African Union and COMESA, and international donor organisations such as USAID, DfiD, the FAO and the Soros Foundation.
The African Centre for Biodiversity has been tracking this issue for a while now and has today released a further research report on the issue, titled, “AFAP in Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania, for Profits or People”. Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania are key target breadbasket countries for the African Fertilizer Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), one of the main beneficiaries of the Gates Foundation-funded Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has on 7th August 2015, lodged an appeal to Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Senzeni Zokwana, against the general release approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) maize, MON87460 granted by the Executive Council (EC): GMO Act. Such approval means that Monsanto can sell the GM maize seed, MON87460, to farmers in South Africa for cultivation.
MON87460 is alleged to be ‘drought tolerant;’ a claim the ACB vehemently disputes.
Administrative justice, procedural fairness and sound science to the test
The appeal is a test for administrative justice and procedural fairness in regard to GM decision-making in South Africa. Administrative decision-making must be based on rigorous food safety, environmental and socio-economic assessments of the potential adverse effects of MON87460, taking into international biosafety best practice.
According to the ACB, the EC’s approval is typical of GM decision-making, which simply reiterates and summarises information provided by Monsanto, who has a clear vested interest in the approval. Such “rubber stamping” is unlawful. The EC is under a legal obligation to apply a risk averse and cautious approach, which takes into account uncertainties and the limits of current knowledge about the consequences of approving MON87460 for commercial
GM and seed industry eye Africa’s lucrative cowpea seed markets: The political economy of cowpea in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi.
The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has today released a new report titled, GM and seed industry eye Africa’s lucrative cowpea seed markets: The political economy of cowpea in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi. The report shows a strong interest by the seed industry in commercialising cowpea seed production and distribution in West Africa, where a very lucrative regional cowpea seed market is emerging. Cowpea, one of the most ancient crops known to humankind, with its centre of origin in Southern Africa, provides the earliest food for millions of Africans during the ‘hungry season’ before cereals mature.
The report argues that the GM cowpea push in Burkina Faso, nigeria and Ghana co-incides with this strong interest from multinational and local seed companies to produce foundation and certified seed in West Africa.
AFSA CALLS ON AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS AT ARUSHA MEETING TO SHUN PROTOCOL THAT UNDERMINES SOVEREIGNTY & FARMERS’ RIGHTS TO SEED
2 July 2015
Nineteen African nations, members of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), began deliberating on the highly contentious draft ARIPO Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Protocol on Monday, 29th June in Arusha Tanzania. Many of these nations are least developed countries, the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world.
If adopted, the Protocol will establish a centralised plant variety protection (PVP) regime modeled on the heavily criticised 1991 Act of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991). Such a PVP regime will vest enormous decision-making powers in the ARIPO PVP Office (which has no experience in PVP matters), and totally undermine the sovereignty of member states to regulate plant breeder’s rights. Crucially, the Protocol will nullify the rights of farmers to freely save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed and other propagating material. This practice is the backbone of agricultural systems in Africa, providing food and nutrition for hundreds of millions of Africans on the continent.
AFSA has been extremely vocal in challenging the legitimacy and credibility of the process leading to the development of the Draft Protocol as well as the Protocol itself. A particular concern is that the
Nuanced rhetoric and the path to poverty: AGRA, small-scale farmers, and seed and soil fertility in Tanzania
The report indicates a well-coordinated effort by selected states especially the US and in the EU, philanthropic institutions like AGRA, multilateral institutions like the World Bank, donors and multinational corporations (MNCs) including Yara, Monsanto and Pioneer to construct a Green Revolution that aims to produce a layer of commercial surplus producers. This is an explicit goal and they are not shy of saying it. However, the long-term social and ecological impacts of this agenda are questionable, with concerns about loss of land, biodiversity, and sovereignty.
AGRA’s scandalous subsidisation of big fertiliser, financial and agribusiness corporations in Africa
In a scandalous move of skulduggery, the African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), under the guise of empowering smallholder farmers in Africa, is subsidising multinational fertiliser and financial corporations on African soil. Other beneficiaries of this scheme are the global grain trading and food processing giants.
AFAP, established in 2012, with a grant of US $25 million from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)-the biggest grant given to a single recipient by AGRA so far- is ostensibly working towards ensuring that African smallholder farmers grow food and profits. However, according to a new report from the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) – The African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP): The missing link in Africa’s Green Revolution, AFAP’s main focus is the provision of credit guarantees to importers and distributors of fertilisers in Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania.
“In essence, AFAP is using development funds, as well as money from the Ethiopian government – one of the least developed countries in the world – to subsidise multinational fertiliser companies such as Yara, which dominates the fertiliser trade in Africa. This also extends to large multinational banks such as the Standard Bank Group, Barclays and the Dutch firm Rabobank, who